It's hard to believe, but there are some basketball fans in Chicago who don't believe in Derrick Rose anymore. Taking an entire season off to get his knee healthy angered many and caused many more to make character assessments of the South Side native.
Derrick Rose is selfish. Derrick Rose quit on his team. Derrick Rose is not a leader. Derrick Rose has no heart.
All these things were said about the Bulls star last season, and the fan base that celebrated him as the "anti-LeBron" seemed to turn on him overnight. But as coach Tom Thibodeau said as training camp opened, the ones who criticized Rose for not playing last year "don't know what the hell they're talking about."
D-Rose never reacted to the criticism, choosing to remain silent and stay above the fray. But it's not like he didn't hear what was said. And in a situation that would've made most people angry, Rose—surprisingly enough—understood the negative reaction.
"You've got to look at both sides," he said. "As a fan—and a fan of how I play—of course I would want my favorite player to be back out there. But at the same time, the way I look at it, I had to be selfish with the idea or thought of me going out there and injuring myself again. I didn't want to put myself in that position. So I just tried to stay far away from [the negativity], think everything through and stay positive."
Last year's Adidas campaign, "The Return," soured many on Rose who were hotly anticipating his comeback and hoping for an NBA championship. But although he was the center of the campaign, no promises were ever made on the behalf of anyone connected to the now-25-year-old—not Adidas, the Bulls nor anyone in the Rose camp.
But the current campaign is something every Bulls fan can get behind. Including Rose himself.
"It's time to prove to my fans that I'm still focused. It's time to show the world that I can still do this. I'm all in for Chicago," Rose says in a recent ad. And when it comes to proving his naysayers wrong, he seems to be a master of that.
Remember when people scoffed at the "why can't I be MVP?" statement a couple of years ago? Well, he went out and proved he could do it. "At the time, I was probably mad that someone questioned me," Rose said.
Well, people are still questioning him. The only difference is his sights are set on something bigger. Something everyone in Chicago can feel like they're a part of and more important, proud of.
"My goal is to win a championship," Rose said. "If I were to get any awards from us winning, don't get me wrong, I'll take it. But at the same time, I know the big picture. … The thing that drives me is just winning the championship. That's the only thing on my resume that I'm missing."
As he's shown in the past, it isn't wise to doubt him.
Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.
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